Worst First Day Ever? Possibly. But Maybe Not.

Normally I am Nemo on the first day of school, but today I felt like Marlin.

To start, none of my classes are fully loaded into the LMS our school uses. Not a single one. I thought I had finished one (early even!) but realized yesterday or the day before that I had prepped it for a face-to-face course and not a hybrid one. (Hybrid courses are mostly online with a face-to-face component.) Oh, and I realized last night that I had just completely forgotten all about putting one of my classes in the LMS. Just…totally forgot it.

To be clear: my courses are fully prepped and planned out for the semester, and my syllabi are done. However, I like to have every single assignment and due date and supporting document locked and loaded into the LMS by the Friday before school starts. I like to have all my syllabi and course documents that I need for the first day copied by the Friday before school starts.

And last night, I was just trying to make sure I had the first two weeks of my classes that started today in there. And then I felt bad for all the times I had secretly mocked waited until right before their classes start to make copies of their syllabi.

Today, I ate my words and my smug judgmental mocking. Today, I was one of them.

And of course the printer wasn’t working when I got to school today. OF COURSE. Because wasn’t that just what I deserved?

(I may be being just a touch melodramatic here. Obviously, the not working printer affected more than just me. HOWEVER, I probably felt it the most because of the lack of preparation shame. But I digress.)

However! They day was not a total loss. My three classes went well (we read and discussed “The Cinder Maid” since the first part of the semester will focus on Cinderella stories), and only one went under time. One ended perfectly in time and the other almost went over. The discussions were good, though, and my students all had good energy.

And, really, isn’t that what matters most in the end?

Ten Random Facts about Me

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is rewind aka pick an old topic and do or revisit it. Well, I’m rewinding all the way back to July 12th’s topic and sharing some random facts about myself.


1. As I get older, I have less and less tolerance for mean humor. That’s one of the reasons I had to quit watching Blackish, in fact. It just felt so mean to me.

2. The TV characters I relate to most are Dorothy Zbornak from Golden Girls and Peyton Sawyer from One Tree Hill. The book character I relate to most is Ursula Riggs from Big Mouth & Ugly Girl. Hello, let me show you my issues.

3. I live in a transitional college town and people always always leave. In the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve had four (four!!!) friends announce they are leaving before the end of September. It sucks.

4. Whenever I have students plagiarize, it sends me into a rage blackout/depression spiral. I hate hate HATE plagiarism. So much so, that my daughter told her friends I would be less upset with her if she came home pregnant than if she cheated on a test/plagiarized some work. This is probably true.

5. If I ever wrote a memoir…well, I would write two. The first one would be titled Today I Hung Out with Some Awesome Ladies and be all about the awesome friends/friendship groups I have. The second would be How to Fix What’s Not Broken Until It Breaks: A Guide for How to Overcomplicate Your Life.

6. Whenever I think about moving to a city, I remember how much I hate traffic and commuting and immediately change my mind. When I lived in the DC area (or the DMV to the natives), it took me over an hour to get to work. My longest commute since moving has been 20 minutes.

7. I hate eggs and mayonnaise so much that watching some cooking shows/competitions is difficult for me. I will frequently yell at the TV, “Why would you ruin a perfectly good X by putting eggs/mayo on it???” I have recently started watching The Great British Bake Off, and I know I love it because I watched the entire episode that featured quiche without wanting to spork my eyes out.

8. I go to water aerobics 2-3x/week. If I go in the mornings, I am definitely the youngest person in the class. If I go in the evenings, I am still one of the youngest people in the class. I am not sure how much longer this will last.

9. I take a nap pretty much every day. Naps are the actual best. It’s weird, though. Sometimes if I take a short nap or no nap, I stay up way longer than I would if I just took a short little nap. (My optimal nap time is 30 minutes, btw. This 30 minutes can sometimes turn into an hour and thirty minutes like it did today, however.)

The thing I am going to miss most about summer break is my post-lunch nap. This is a true fact.

10. My plan for this summer was to do a little course prep each day so that I wouldn’t spend the last two weeks of my vacation holed up in my house doing course prep. Well, school starts in two weeks and guess what I’ll be doing for the duration? Yep. Maybe next summer will be better–especially since I have no plans to move then. Here’s hoping.


Where are you going? Where have you been?

Sorry (not sorry) to all you students looking for homework help, but this post is not about the Joyce Carol Oates story. (P.S. Stop Googling and do your own homework. I promise your instructor doesn’t care what the internet thinks but wants to know what you think instead.)

Where have you been?

So yes. I took a brief (three weeks??? it felt longer) internet hiatus, mostly because I was moving but also because the internet is my fun/escape place, and it definitely has NOT been that for a while. Not only has the news been bad, but a friend of mine was going through a personal crisis that really made me examine who I allow into my safe spaces on the internet. So everything just felt like a lot of noise, and it was stressing me out. Therefore, a break was needed.

A while ago, I changed the tagline on my site from “how to read like an English professor” to “from the mind of an English professor.” I am big into announcing your purpose and audience (see also: English professor), so changing the tagline will open up some space in the blog for me to talk about whatever I want…without feeling like I’m off task.

I tend to not talk about things because I don’t feel like engaging nonsense or getting upset or…I don’t know, a bunch of stuff. However, a few things happened that made me reconsider this:

  • a conversation with a friend who reminded me that awful people will come for us if we don’t show we won’t tolerate their nonsense
  • a conversation with another friend who said she was not necessarily engaging with hot nonsense but that she would consider to do what she always does by spreading joy and positivity on her chosen platform
  • my friend’s personal crisis reminded me that awful people just go around being emotional terrorists and keep it moving while the rest of us are (often silently) picking up the pieces
  • listening to the Margaret Cho interview on Another Round
  • watching (some of) the PBS biography of Muhammad Ali
  • reading Grifbeck’s post about Prince
  • reading (and in some cases re-reading) some of the articles listed here
  • reading Jenny’s review which featured an Angry Feminist Minute

Here’s the thing. I am angry a lot. Like, pretty much all the time. I often say that, for me, living as a black woman in America is being Bruce Banner.

All of that stuff reminded me that my anger is good and healthy and also that, as someone with a platform and a voice, I have a responsibility to use both.

So what does that mean for the blog?

  1. I will be blogging more frequently and not just by participating in memes (IMWAYR and TTT).
  2. I will be blogging about stuff besides books.
  3. I will not necessarily be blogging about the things that make me angry. (I know, I know. After all of that build up? Some people.) I mean, I am sure you can guess what pisses me off in general. (You may or may not be surprised to know I almost had a rage blackout after Melania Trump plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech.) But I am really super into going beyond talking about black trauma to remind the world that we are and can be carefree/have other interests that go beyond the scope of race.
  4. But, you know, sometimes I may talk about things that make me angry, too.

Basically, I plan to use my little corner of the internet to engage my anger in a healthy way but also to spread joy and love and light. And stop worrying so much about what other people think.

Diversity on the Shelf Link Up: August 2016

Last month I encouraged us to make July even better in terms of linked reviews…and didn’t add a single one of my reviews to the link up. So let’s make August awesome and do as I say and not as I do, yeah? Yeah.

ALSO. I am looking for someone to take over hosting the challenge for next year. If you’re interested, drop me a line at theenglishist @ gmail.

Lastly, please encourage each other by clicking on links and reading and commenting on reviews! It’s not required, but it is nice. It’s also a great way to build up a community of readers committed to reading diversely.

Diversity on the Shelf 2016

Link up your reviews below. If you don’t have a book blog, but have Goodreads or Library Thing, etc., you may use that to participate and post your links to your reviews. Get more details about the challenge here. It’s not too late to sign up!


It’s Monday! What are you reading? (7/18/16)

Oh, so I finished some books since the last time I participated in IMWAYR. I haven’t really had time to post (even missing the Top Ten Tuesday I was most excited about–ten random facts about me) because I bought a house on July 1, and my life has been pretty hectic since. So this will cover all the books I’ve finished since June 20. I mean, it’s not that big a deal since I only finished one other book in June anyway.
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Book Tour Review: Stepping to a New Day

Like most boys, he’d grown up believing girls were emotional and fragile little things. Since moving to Kansas it was obvious the women he’d interacted with didn’t know that.

Stepping to a New Day by Beverly JenkinsStepping to a New Day is the seventh book in Beverly Jenkins’s Blessings series, set in the fictional (and delightful) Henry Adams, Kansas.

I have to confess that I haven’t read the other books in the series, which meant it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the story and the rules. However, once I figured out that it’s basically a soap opera with rotating frontburner and backburner characters, I was ALL IN.

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Top Ten Books with Fewer Than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

I am just going to copy/paste the directions for this one from The Broke and the Bookish:

Thanks to Lenore at Celebrity Readers for suggesting this topic as a new way to talk about underrated books especially when underrated is subjective. An easy way to find this — go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that.

I put together this list a while ago, and I set a bunch of criteria for myself about which books I would include, and I have NO IDEA what they were. Books I haven’t really talked about on the blog before? Books published before 2010? Who knows? All descriptions from Goodreads.

Green Thumb by Rob Thomas

1. Green Thumb by Rob Thomas (creator of Veronica Mars, btw): Thirteen-year-old genius Grady Jacobs thinks junior high is a snore. His radical science experiments have earned him plenty of national awards, but not a lot of friends. So when an invitation comes to join the famous scientist, Dr. Carter, in the Brazilian rain forest, Grady is on the next plane to the Amazon. But Grady’s ultimate field trip turns ultimately awful when he discovers what Dr. Carter is really up to: he isn’t there to save the rain forest — he is there to destroy it! Can one eight-grade science whiz put a stop to Dr. Carter’s evil plans? He can when he is joined by the Urah-Wau tribe of Indians and a supernatural power that no amount of science can ever explain.

# of ratings:  71
My comments: This book is so fun! Adventure stories for the win.

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Diversity on the Shelf Link Up: July 2016

June had the most posted reviews so far (27 as I’m typing this!). Let’s make July EVEN BETTER, yes? Yes.

Also, please encourage each other by clicking on links and reading and commenting on reviews! It’s not required, but it is nice. It’s also a great way to build up a community of readers committed to reading diversely. Okay? Okay.

Oh, since I switched my hosting, the link ups will now open in a new window. I am bummed since it was so nice to see them all pretty right there below the banner. Oh well.


Diversity on the Shelf 2016

Link up your reviews below. If you don’t have a book blog, but have Goodreads or Library Thing, etc., you may use that to participate and post your links to your reviews. Get more details about the challenge here. It’s not too late to sign up!


Top Ten Books I Have No Recollection of Reading

It’s freebie week! I’ve been talking a lot lately how I’ve read so many books that I can’t remember all of them. This post is inspired by the first book on my list, which I cannot remember AT ALL even though I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I mean, even reading the synopsis did nothing to jog my memory. So I wondered how many other books I would find in my Goodreads that I had rated pretty highly (with four or five stars) but could not remember reading.

The answer? Seventeen. (Obviously, there are probably some books I rated with three or fewer stars that I don’t remember, but that seems normal. But to really like a book–or even love it–and not remember it? Bookworm problems, I swear.)

Anyway, here are ten books I rated with four or five stars that I do not remember reading at all. Like…at all. Okay, maybe I remember seeing the covers before but that’s it. I have also included the synopsis from Goodreads. Clicking on the picture will take you to the book’s Goodreads page.


1. Clotel, or the President’s Daughter by William Wells Brown: First published in December 1853, Clotel was written amid then unconfirmed rumors that Thomas Jefferson had fathered children with one of his slaves. The story begins with the auction of his mistress, here called Currer, and their two daughters, Clotel and Althesa. The Virginian who buys Clotel falls in love with her, gets her pregnant, seems to promise marriage—then sells her. Escaping from the slave dealer, Clotel returns to Virginia disguised as a white man in order to rescue her daughter, Mary, a slave in her father’s house. A fast-paced and harrowing tale of slavery and freedom, of the hypocrisies of a nation founded on democratic principles, Clotel is more than a sensationalist novel. It is a founding text of the African American novelistic tradition, a brilliantly composed and richly detailed exploration of human relations in a new world in which race is a cultural construct.

My note: Pretty sure I read this in grad school.

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site maintenance & its effect on Diversity on the Shelf link ups

I have switched my hosting, which means that (a) my site looks different and (b) a bunch of other stuff is wonky, so please bear with me as I try to facilitate the changes.

change lion king

This especially affects the Diversity on the Shelf challenge posts. The current link up and the sign up page have been fixed, but I have to go back and do the other five months (January-May) some day when things are a little less hectic. All links are still in the link ups. I just have to fix them so that they actually show up when you go to the link up pages.

Also, is it just me or is the WordPress.com new “simpler” visual editor super confusing? It is less intuitive than it pretends to be and over-complicates things that are simple in the admin area. UGH. STOP THAT.

So, yes, I apologize for any broken links and exposed spoiler text. Some of that stuff I will be able to fix straight away–others, I may never discover until/unless someone points it out. So that’s that.

On the plus side, all of my stuff transferred over with minimal problems, so yay.